The Pennsylvania Corruption Network (PACN) uses the grand jury system as a sword and a shield.
As mentioned in the PA Corruption Network's Playbook (January 1, 2016), when the PACN feels threatened or that they may be exposed for their own heinous acts, they use the court system to charge others with crimes (deflecting attention away from them).
The cases of the PSU 3 and current PA Attorney General (AG) Kathleen Kane were examples of how the playbook works -- and both cases were instances of using the grand jury system as a sword.
Conversely, the Sandusky case and some current activities in Centre County show how the PACN uses the grand jury system as a shield.
The Kane grand jury leak investigation appears to be the PACN using the system as a sword.
But before explaining that, let's wind back the clock.
Judge Barry Feudale oversaw the Bonusgate and Sandusky grand juries, while Frank Fina prosecuted the trials. Both grand juries had issues with leaks to the press, but no "leakers" were ever identified. And no grand juries were established to investigate the leaks.
The Kane case, however, was an entirely different matter in terms of results.
A grand jury was convened to investigate the leaks. It moved at lightning speed to quickly find that here was probable cause to charge the AG with contempt for leaking grand jury information, obstruction of justice for orchestrating the leaks, official oppression, perjury (part of the playbook), and false swearing.
However, before the grand jury's conclusions were reached, it was being used a sword by -- of course -- leaking damaging information about Kane to the press.
In September 2014, the existence of the secret grand jury was reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer's was Angela Couloumbus and Craig McCoy. The column was heavily biased toward Fina's and other former AG officials version of events, including the recitation of part of an irrelevant email, purported to be smoking gun evidence, sent to Kane by Adrian King.
|Not so ironically, these are the same reporters who were leaked secret court documents by Judge Barry Feudale.|
In January 2015, Couloumbus and McCoy again reported of the impending decision by the grand jury to recommend charges of contempt and perjury against Kane. They were later subpoenaed by Judge Carpenter to testify about the leaks. The Inquirer stated both would invoke the Shield Law to protect their sources.
Of course, there was no uproar to find out who was leaking to McCoy and Couloumbus -- even though part of the rationale for invoking the Shield Law was because they were exposing the "wrong-doing" of public officials (i.e., Kane). As if another public official, say Frank Fina of the Philly DA's office or one of his associates there, couldn't have been behind the leaks.
When all was said and done, the investigation by then Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Fetri Vermin found that Kane didn't leak protected grand jury information.
But the damage had already been done to Kane by the PACN's wielding of the grand jury sword.
Secrecy as a Shield
To understand how the PACN uses grand jury secrecy as a shield, the Moulton investigation is instructive.
In 2012, then-AG candidate Kane campaigned that if elected, she would look into the Sandusky matter. After winning by a landslide, Kane made good on her promise the day she took office.
Given the evidence of Fina's, Baldwin's and Feudale's grand jury chicanery, it's not a stretch to think that they had concerns about what the investigation might uncover.
As a result, these preemptive strikes followed.
First, in February 2013, Feudale appointed a former AG Corbett appointee, James Reeder, to conduct investigations into the Sandusky leaks and leaks emanating from the grand jury of suspected mobster, Louis A. DeNaples. It was likely that Feudale did so knowing that Reeder would shield any potentially damaging information from those grand juries from being accessed by the Kane (eventually Moulton) investigation.
Next, in March 2013, anonymous sources alleged to be former AG attorneys and agents threatened to go public if Moulton's report was overly critical of their investigation or was factually inaccurate.
Moulton's Report seemingly went soft on Fina and his cohorts, stating it was within his prosecutorial discretion to use a grand jury to investigate the case. However, at the press conference announcing the report, Moulton called the delays in obtaining search warrants and other investigative steps to be "inexplicable."
In response, Corbett spokesperson Jay Pagni stated "It was a thorough, thoughtful investigation" that resulted in taking Sandusky off the street.
But the facts show Corbett was wrong. The investigation wasn't thoughtful or thorough. The AG's investigation clearly ignored leads that would have taken it to The Second Mile's (TSM) doorstep and to more victims immediately.
According to the evidence in the Moulton Report, the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) interviewed Aaron Fisher, Steve Turchetta, Central Mountain High School (CMHS) students F.P and F.A, and volunteer wrestling coach Joseph Miller by January 21st, 2009. All of them told the police that Sandusky's connection to children was TSM.
Due to various jurisdiction issues and conflicts, the case was then transferred from Clinton County, to Centre County, then to Corbett's AG office in March 2009.
On March 17th, DAG Jonelle Eshbach received the PSP report on the case, but after that, no subsequent action occurred until May 1st, when the AG inexplicably recommended the case be taken up by an investigating grand jury (GJ).
From May 1, 2009 until January 28, 2011, the investigation steered clear of TSM. On the 28th, it finally issued a subpoena to the charity -- but only for Sandusky's employment and travel records.
The GJ didn't issue a subpoena for names of TSM participants (children) until March 24th, 2011. That delay, hypothetically gave TSM officials ample time to dispose of any incriminating evidence, including (possibly) silencing of the most important witnesses.
Given the evidence above, it is highly probable that the AG was avoiding TSM because whatever was going on inside or around it in Centre County had the potential of causing repercussions in Harrisburg -- and possibly other places.
The Sandusky grand jury investigation ensured the lid stayed on whatever was happening at the charity.
Lock Down In State College
Until the publication of Don Van Natta's "The Whistleblower's Last Stand," little was known about the alleged anonymous email tip that identified Mike McQueary as a possible witness to Sandusky's abuse.
The ESPN article revealed the tip was allegedly sent to Centre County DA Stacy Parks Miller on November 3, 2010 -- the day after then-AG Tom Corbett won the gubernatorial election.
Coincidence? Likely not.
As noted in Ferman Presser: Lies, Contradictions, and Ethics Violations (January 6, 2016), the PACN includes men, women, prosecutors, judges, and political operatives across the state.
Parks Miller had her share of issues of late, including alleged foot-dragging on the sexual abuse investigation of Christopher Lee, ex parte communications with Judge Bradley Lunsford, and was accused of forging a judge's signature on a court order.
Fortunately for Parks Miller, the grand jury system bailed her out on the forgery accusation. On July 31, 2015, whomever the special prosecutor was found there wasn't enough evidence to charge Miller -- and so said the grand jury.
Just days after the decision, Parks-Miller petitioned to convene an investigating grand jury "to consider at least one unsolved murder, and a recent series of other cases the scope of which cannot be determined without the powers granted to a county investigating grand jury."
Parks Miller's petition stated that unsolved disappearances, corrupt organizations, and drug trafficking cases could be assigned to the grand jury.
Few doubt that the unsolved disappearance reference is to former DA Ray Gricar, who disappeared in 2005.
In 2010, then Centre Daily Times reporter, Sara Ganim, wrote that Parks Miller's office would be conducting a review of the case. Parks Miller related that she was confident the Bellefonte Police Department (BPD) was actively investigating the case.
Three years later, the PSP announced it was taking over the case from the BPD. Now it appears the investigation is being taken out of their hands by the actions of Parks Miller and otherwise protected from an investigation by shuttling the case to another grand jury.
But one has to wonder why the Commonwealth didn't do more sooner about the Gricar disappearance.
When the Sandusky scandal broke, the media connected the April 2005 disappearance of former DA Ray Gricar to "unanswered questions" about why he didn't charge Sandusky in 1998.
The reason the media couldn't figure it out was because the Sandusky grand jury presentment omitted that the PA Department of Public Welfare (DPW) didn't make an abuse finding. That decision essentially precluded Gricar from charging, according to retired PSU Detective Ronald Schreffler.
It is also notable that the presentment didn't even mention that Centre County Children and Youth Services (CC CYS) was involved in the 1998 investigation. Contrary to what was written in the Freeh Report about CC CYS recusing itself from the investigation in early May, it remained involved until May 27th.
In summary, the Sandusky grand jury presentment (and later, the Freeh Report) was used as a shield to hide the failures of the DPW and CC CYS to protect children from Sandusky. Conversely, its sword came out when it falsely saddled the PSU police and Ray Gricar with the responsibility of deciding the 1998 case.
But, the PACN may have been doing more than hiding the failures of child protective services when it put forth the false story about 1998. It was likely protecting itself.
|Corbett didn't put Fina|
on the Ray Gricar case
When Ray Gricar went missing on April 15, 2005, then-AG Tom Corbett didn't seem overly concerned about it.
Instead of Corbett calling on the PSP, the AG's criminal investigation division, or better yet, forming a task force to investigate the case, he let it stay in the care of the little BPD. Obviously, the BPD could not marshal the resources that the PSP, AG, or a task force could.
About a year later, on February 28, 2006, Corbett announced the formation of a new Public Corruption Unit, rationalizing its need because Pennsylvania had legalized slots and casinos. Corbett also noted the legislature formed an independent, elected AG's office in 1978 in order to fight public corruption.
In what now seems like a fox watching the hen house move, Corbett named Frank Fina to be the chief of the new anti-corruption section.
Interestingly enough, Fina was the AG's head of the criminal investigation division in 2005. As Fina has been lauded by the media for his prowess, one has to wonder why Tom Corbett didn't tag him to lead the Gricar investigation.
It gets better.
Some of the others assigned to the Public Corruption Unit were:
Patrick Blessington and Mark Costanza, two attorneys who would eventually be snared in the "porngate" case;
Jonelle Eshbach, who led the Sandusky investigation and then hot footed it out of town; and,
James Reeder, who Barry Feudale assigned to investigate the grand jury leak cases related to Sandusky and suspected mobster and casino owner Louis A. DeNaples.
As any prosecutor will tell you, too many coincidences are not a good thing for criminal defendants or for targets of conspiracy and corruption investigations.
While the media scoffed at Kane's suggestion that a corrupt "old boy's network" was out to get her, it appears she may have been right. All that's missing to prove Kane's case that the network has it out for her is the "smoking gun" evidence.
I'm willing to wager that evidence will be of the email variety.
About That Oath